Speculative Fiction Art
Text and Sound
Such occurrences were first reported in 2028 due to an ever-growing dependence on screens. They were supposedly linked to Google’s launch of layerense that had led to a surge in the use of digital devices, especially amongst the elites who were now nearing an average screen-time of 12-13 hours, while the urban working-class had an average screen-time of 10 hours. The data showed a 200% increase since 2025, this was the year when layerense hit the markets targeting the urban rich, specifically the teentechs. Analogue visuality has since become obsolete or old-fashioned and been replaced by these translucent layered screens that can be attached onto anything ranging from clothes, sunglasses, backseat-covers and mirrors of automobiles, furniture, doors, windows and other everyday material. When, within a month, the product saw a boom, Google pushed a high-end version as contact lenses and mini-layerense that could easily take the shape of any minute object. In no time, people started wearing them on bags, buttons, back of the hand and so on; a jewellery brand partnered with Google to launch limited edition wearables- rewels – a collection of earrings, rings and pendants, but it hasn’t found a niche market yet. Studies from 2025 and later have shown that such obsessive and unregulated use of technology has caused an irreversible dent on the human mind and society– alterations in memory (techamnesia), sleep patterns, social interactions, work ethics, everyday behaviour, existential dissonance epoch (ede), timeswamps/ ‘daldal’ (inability to separate physical reality from virtuality), to name a few. It has swiped children as young as 3 years old, the adults care less and remain beyond recovery. The average sleep duration has reduced drastically to 3-4 hours in the working class and even lesser in others, proportional to the free time they have at hand to expend.
Gathering from the events of the past two years, the appearance of the virtual world in dreams now seems like an inevitable offspring of such dotage. I had a few dreams as early as in 2023 where some Instagram friends whom I had never met in-person but only followed their posts and stories regularly, would crop into my dream now and then. Even fictional characters from YouTube and IG reels would make their appearance, for instance this video of frogs (next page), oh how they haunted me that night!- made of shiny skins, glowing and dancing in the dark, ready to launch their attack as soon as I entered their darkness. Fortunately, it was nothing compared to what we came to witness in 2028. People not only dreamt the virtual, but also started acting within-and-through it. The most absurd behaviour was found in teenagers who developed a tendency called dreamdialing (as we call it now; a compound word originated from behaviours like ‘sleepwalking’), unnerving and largely misunderstood during the initial instances. Dreamdialing started with rare occurrences of people getting a phone call in the middle of the night and someone mumbling or talking in gibberish, saying weird things accompanied by unidentified or incoherent dream-soundscapes, and then they would suddenly drop the call and wouldn’t answer when called back. This was most reported between couples who had recently ghosted or had undergone a painful break up; the next day the estranged wouldn’t remember placing the call and would deny it or call it a butt-dial when confronted. Nevertheless, the instances only multiplied and started becoming a nuisance, the only solution was to lock one’s phone before going to bed or switch it off to avoid getting disturbed at night. This is not the only kind of dreamdialing that has been pell-mell-ing our lives ever since. One day while going through my call records to free up space (since I picked up the habit of recording every single call due to a close friend’s constant denial after dreamdialing; he was probably deleting the records out of shame) I stumbled upon a mysterious recording of a call with my mother. As it would be, I did not remember calling so I figured it was a dreamdial, but strangely she also didn’t remember receiving it. This had never happened before so I kept nudging her to remember and blamed her old age. This anomaly was explained after a month-or-so when we figured that it’s a new tendency where a person can also receive a call during their sleep and it leads to an interesting cross-connection amongst the two dreamers and their dreams. They are calling it dream-answering for the lack of a better term. People have already started creating art works and songs from these recordings; they are always in such a rush!
I am presenting here a compilation of the call-records of my dream-crossings: